UCLA forward David Wear laughed when asked, “Was that an identical twin moment?”
Travis Wear had spotted his brother running alone up court and fired a long pass Thursday. David sank a three-pointer at the buzzer to force overtime against Oregon.
“No,” David said with a chuckle. “I just ran down court and we made eye contact.”
The Wears are seen as a novelty at times. A pair of 6-foot-10 basketball players who all but require DNA testing to tell them apart. It has been a subject for inquisitive minds.
“Yeah, we get the same questions, people want to take pictures of us together,” David said. “We’re used to it by now. We accept we’re twins. We enjoy it.”
Well, enjoy it while it lasts.
The Wears play their last home game Sunday, when the Bruins face Oregon State. It has been a long and winding road since leaving Santa Ana Mater Dei High. They have played at two colleges — North Carolina and UCLA — and for three coaches: Roy Williams, Ben Howland and Steve Alford.
But the biggest adjustment may be to come. When the season is over, they will be separated 23 years after birth.
“We have maybe been apart a week here, a week there,” Travis said. “You hear stories about twins sticking together and living together. Wherever basketball takes us, it’s not going to be on the same path.”
There is only one question left to answer: Who is the evil twin?
David Wear rolled his eyes, laughed and said, “I don’t think either of us. We’re both pretty good guys.”
The Wears stopped playing one-on-one long ago.
“We started getting in a fight every time,” Travis said.
So a last game means there was a last winner.
“I’d say it was me,” Travis said.
“In his mind,” he said. “It ended with me chasing him down the street because of a hard foul.”
This is how it is, and always has been.
The Wears are more than brothers. They are identical brothers. That can play out comically at times. Practices are occasionally paused.
“We have Dave-Trav moments, where we stop and let them do their identical-twin-brother-thing,” Alford said. “When one’s mad, the other is mad. When one’s smiling, the other one is smiling.”
They may bicker, but if someone steps in between, “it’s us against the world,” David said.
It made growing up a hoot.
There were the standard twin-brother ploys. In elementary school, they’d go to class for each other. Even Dave Wear, their father, had a difficult time sorting the two out.
“It’s why David always wore the lower number, because ‘D’ comes before ‘T,’” their father said.
That works, but only if the two comply. At Mater Dei, they would sometimes change jerseys for practice.
“We had some fun,” Travis said.
Too much, in fact, to break up the act.
The two picked North Carolina, where they spent a rough freshman season in 2009-10. When the Tar Heels — the defending national champions — missed the NCAA tournament, there was discontent from the fan base. The Wears felt some of it.
“Being across the country, away from family and friends, forces you to grow up,” Travis said. “We were playing probably on a bigger stage than what we are now. Being a Tar Heel made you pretty widely known. It wasn’t what I thought it would be.”
They came home, but stayed together.
“There was never any thought that we’d go to different schools,” Travis said.
Alford had individual player meetings when he was hired last spring. Of course, the Wears came as a package deal.
They had one year of eligibility left and could transfer as graduate students. Both were considering that route.
“It was tough finding out Coach Howland had been fired, especially after we won the Pac-12 [regular-season] championship,” Travis said. “I was on the fence a little bit, like, ‘What am I going to do now?’”
Said David: “I was 95% sure I was coming back. I wanted to see if I fit in Coach Alford’s style of play.”
The meeting went well. The Wears fit as starters.
Alford understood “having three coaching staffs in a five-year period is not easy. Sometimes that gets a little muddled. They have handled it.”
Their numbers, of course, are nearly identical. Travis averages 6.9 points and David 6.8. The interaction, as always, is the same.
“I have to realize, ‘OK, he’s not going to make every shot, let him be,’” David said.
The two came home to be near family and friends, who could see them play. They haven’t disappointed. They were an integral part of the regular-season Pac-12 championship team last season.
But, like North Carolina, there has been some fans, stationed anonymously on the Internet, who expected the Wears to be power players.
Even Alford said, “Early in the season, we were trying to figure out if one of them was going to be a post player. They are not post guys. They are guys who are going to roll off screens and pop jump shots.”
Which the Wears have done effectively for three seasons.
“They felt they wanted to help restart a program,” said the twins’ father. “They felt a lot of loyalty to UCLA.”
It all ends in a month.
“I feel like Mater Dei was just yesterday,” David said. “It has been such a humbling journey. We feel like there isn’t anything that we can’t get through.”
Even being apart.
Said David: “We realize we’re at the point where we got to go our separate ways.”
But, Travis said, “we will talk every day.”
Of course, some things they won’t miss.
“Dave’s not as clean as me,” Travis said of his brother. “I hate it when he leaves his clothes piled up in the closet. I like to fold mine and keep them organized.”
Again, David scoffed, saying, “He’ll go, ‘Let’s clean the room.’ I’ll say, ‘sure.’ But he’ll be, ‘Let’s do it now.’ I’ll say, ‘I don’t want to do that right now.’ It’ll turn into a big fight. We’re brothers.”
Added their father: “They have always had that identical-twin synergy. You saw that when David made that shot the other night.”